WASHINGTON — The Biden administration Thursday announced several measures designed to make federal forms of identification, applications for federal programs and travel documents more inclusive for Americans who identify as transgender or non-binary, or who otherwise do not conform to traditional gender roles. .
A long-awaited change will allow Americans to indicate their gender with an “X” on passports from April 11.
The plan was announced last summer, shortly after the State Department repealed a rule requiring a statement from a doctor stating that an applicant had switched or was in the process of menopause to change their gender on their passport.
Officials had said making the “X” option available was complicated and would take time. Douglass Benning, a deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s consular affairs office, said on Wednesday the process involved gathering feedback from the public, consulting countries that had taken similar steps and working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research into defining an X-gender marker.
“We are committed to promoting and protecting the freedom, dignity and equality of all persons, including transgender non-binary, non-binary and non-conforming transgender people around the world,” said Mr Benning.
About being transgender in America
Beginning April 11, the Transportation Security Administration will also offer the “X” gender option to applicants for its Trusted Traveler programs, which expedite travelers at U.S. airports and across international borders.
The Biden administration said the “X” category option will soon be extended to federal student aid applications, discrimination complaints to the Equal Opportunity Commission, and the White House’s security system for employees and visitors.
The TSA also announced new initiatives to make security screening more inclusive, such as removing gender considerations in validating a traveler’s identity and updating body scanning procedures. Current technology distinguishes anatomy, meaning an officer must press a button to notify the machine of a traveler’s gender before a body scan. That could potentially trigger an alarm if a person’s body contours don’t match the generic contour the software expects.
Activists said it was a monumental step to allow Americans to identify themselves by a gender different from that on their birth certificates or other official records, as many people face hurdles in changing or obtaining other forms of identification. , such as a driver’s license, which identify them accurately.
“This is absolutely phenomenal for transgender Americans,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “A lot of people still live in states where that process of updating your driver’s license or state ID is a pain and may be very expensive.”
More than 20 states offer a gender-neutral option of X on driver’s licenses, but dozens do not have or have requirements, such as doctor’s certification, to change gender.
Before changing its rule, the United States consulted several countries — including Canada, Australia and New Zealand — that have adopted similar policies, Mr Benning said.
Jessica Stern, the US special envoy to promote the human rights of LGBTQI+ people, said the government would emphasize the inclusion of gender options on passports in its promotion of LGBTQ rights worldwide.
“With this development, the United States is joining other countries in recognizing their gender options on passports without additional verification beyond the person’s own confirmation,” she said.